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Howdy folks, I've been beavering away at this as a project to learn Python. Retool converts Redump and No-Intro dats to 1G1R, doing a better job than dat managers with parent/clone dats. It has both GUI and CLI versions. You'll still need a dat manager to use the files Retool creates, such as CLRMamePro, RomVault, or Romcenter — you just won't need to use their 1G1R modes, as Retool will have already done the work for you. Why not use CLRMAMEPro or Romcenter's 1G1R mode with a parent/clone dat? The short version: Dat managers don't do a great job of picking canonical 1G1R titles, and No-Intro often misses clones in their dats. The long version: Historically if you wanted to create a 1G1R set, you'd use a parent/clone dat in combination with a dat manager like CLRMAMEPro or Romcenter. After loading the dat into the dat manager, you'd set your desired regions and region order, and whether or not to filter by languages (assuming the dat has <release> tags properly set up — something which is vanishingly rare). You'd then trust the dat manager to choose the perfect parent title for you from your favorite region, discarding the clones from other regions. Here's the thing. The parent/clone dat format was created for MAME, to enable one of the ways in which it organizes its ROMs. A "parent" ROM in MAME contains the base or common files for a game, while "clone" ROMs only contain files that are different from the parent. If you load a clone game in MAME, it's smart enough to load the base files from the parent, and any of the modified files it needs from the clone. Dat manager 1G1R is effectively a hack on top of this system. In 1G1R mode a dat manager uses the parent/clone relationships in a dat to set up a group of related titles. It then selects a single title from that group based on your region and language preferences and ignores the other titles, in an effort to only include the most desired version. While on the surface this seems reasonable, if you look a little closer you start to see the cracks. The primary issue is that dat managers and parent/clone dats don't have an expansive concept of title priority. For example, what happens when there are two copies of the same title from the same region, but they have different names? Or different version numbers? Or were published by different companies at different times? Which title does the dat manager choose then? The answer — the first one it finds, not the newest or best. There's another issue, and that concerns languages. To determine a 1G1R title, dat managers give each title a score, combined from your region and language priority. While selected regions are treated as a filter (don't include Europe, and you won't get European titles), languages aren't. Instead, languages are treated as a "bonus" score added to the original region score, meaning you can end up with titles in languages you don't want if a region is high enough priority. Check out LogiqX's pseudo code for an idea of how this works (search for "I do this kind of thing for a living..." to find the relevant bit). Retool handles proper 1G1R title selection, and a whole lot more. It even identifies the languages of each title by using multiple sources — the implied language spoken in the region the title is from, languages explicitly listed in the title's filename, and languages listed on Redump's website and No-Intro's database, which aren't always included in the filenames. After you set up the GUI or user-config.yaml to your liking, Retool's output is already 1G1R, meaning you don't need to select 1G1R mode, regions, or languages in your dat manager — just load the dat and go. Clone lists While Retool is smart enough to automatically match certain types of parents and clones, there are certain situations that require manual assignment, like when a title has a different name in different regions. To achieve this, Retool keeps clone lists. At the time of writing, Retool's clone lists are the most thorough that I know of. I manually combed through titles in most dats, and cross referenced them on Wikipedia, Moby Games, Retroplace, GameTDB, VDGB, VGM, YouTube, Amazon.jp, PlayAsia, Sega Retro, PSCX2 Wiki, PlayStation DataCenter, The Cutting Room Floor, and Atari Mania. I checked out the parent/clone dats for No-Intro, and occasionally I went through Redump's site for Japanese, Korean, Russian, and Chinese characters for titles, so I could do translations and find out what they were called in other languages. When all else failed, I did some good old web searching in order to turn up information. At some point I discovered FilterQuest, a similar tool, and added some missing titles from there. Clone lists are updated independently of the program, and are formatted as JSON files. They are stored in a subfolder called clonelists, which is in the same folder as Retool. You can update them from the GUI using the File menu, or by running updateclonelists.py. Features Region ordering and language filtering. Can exclude the following title types: Add-ons Applications Audio titles Bad dumps BIOS and other chips Bonus discs Coverdiscs Demos and samples Educational titles Manuals Multimedia titles Pirate titles Preproduction titles (alphas, betas, prototypes) Promotional titles Unlicensed titles Video titles Custom exclude and include filters. Output a list of the final 1G1R title names, and prefix and suffix each title with whatever you like. The most thorough clone lists available, which can update from the internet. A GUI. A legacy parent/clone dat creation mode, and a tool called CloneRel, so you can analyze the relationships Retool creates. This is mostly useful if you intend to update clone lists yourself. Where can I read more or download Retool? Over on the Retool Github page, where there are installation instructions for those familiar with Git and Python, and also for Windows users who haven't had much CLI, Git, or Python experience. Read the Wiki for the full set of instructions. What else is out there? There are a few different projects that all have slightly different focuses, like Pixelpiper's DCTF, AndreBrait's 1G1R romset generator, and UnluckyForSome's FilterQuest.
1. What is the best program to use for dats? 2. what are dats used for? 3. Are there dats for images also? 4. How reliable are dats? 5. Do you have to certain sets to use certain dats? for example if I download a NES set that is TOSEC and want to convert it to no-intro, is that possible? I have been put of emulation for about 10 years and now looking at updating everything. I used dats and i think romcenter before. I remember images were always a problem and the different naming conventions were an issue.
Hey, so I've been moderating for a while, and I've been wondering - should we start adding names on the DB according to No-Intro naming conventions? I usually curate my games with the No-Intro lists, so if we change names or at least add alternate names on the DB which correspond exactly to the No-Intro lists it should make scraping some games a lot easier. For example, No-Intro usually names games like The Legend of Zelda as "Legend of Zelda, The", which doesn't get scraped correctly on Launchbox. So I guess what I'm asking is - will there ever be a feature to update Launchbox DB with No-Intro/TOSEC/Redump conventions or data? Cause that would would be great for achieving parity with other game databases across the web.